When did Haresfoot Productions end?
The University of Wisconsin Haresfoot Club performed their final production, “Destry Rides Again,” in 1964, after years of dwindling membership and financial struggle. For those who have never heard of Haresfoot, we offer a brief history:
For 65 years, the Haresfoot Club of the University of Wisconsin-Madison delighted audiences throughout the state, with performances of their annual all-male revue. The Haresfoot Club was the UW’s oldest dramatic organization and the nation’s third oldest collegiate dramatic organization. Started in 1899 by Earnest Kronshage, a UW student, the club’s name was derived from a bit of theatrical lore. A hare’s foot, at one time, was the standard tool for applying stage make-up. The tradition of all-male casts began in the early 1900s for several reasons. First, not many women attended the university at that time. Second, Haresfoot embraced the tradition of the great clubs at the all-male universities of the East Coast. Third, when the group began touring the state, it was unthinkable for women to travel out of town with men. By 1909 all-male casts were a tradition. The Haresfoot motto became “All Our Girls Are Men; Yet Every One’s a Lady.” In 1907 the club produced its first musical, which was so well received that history records an almost unbroken string of musicals from that time on. The group began touring at the suggestion of the university who viewed the tour as a good public relations venture. They were also instrumental in the building of the Wisconsin Union Theater, after they complained about having no space for rehearsal.
Haresfoot persevered through World Wars I and II, the depression and, finally, the Korean War before eventually calling it quits. Competition from radio, television and movies made it increasingly difficult to attract audiences, the cost of continuing tours on a private railway became too expensive, and by the last few years, it was difficult to find enough cast members to put on a show. While the group no longer exists, it is fondly remembered among Madisonians and former members, and forever holds a place in university history.